Google founder offloads another $370m of shares

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The Independent Online

Larry Page, one of the founders of Google, is set to pocket another $370m (£210m) from selling shares in the giant internet search engine whose remarkable success has made him a multibillionaire.

Mr Page said in a company filing that he planned to sell 1.2 million shares, pushing his share sales to more than $1bn since Google floated in August last year. Google's other founder, Sergey Brin, has also sold a sizeable chunk of his holding.

Google's share price has soared from $85 when it floated to more than $320 this week. Many on Wall Street believe it could go higher, with some analysts saying the world's largest internet search company could reach $400 a share. At the time of Google's initial public offering, Mr Brin and Mr Page owned 15 per cent of the company they started seven years ago while at Stanford University. They each have personal fortunes of about $11bn.

The dramatic creation of wealth has propelled the duo up Forbes magazine's rich list. The latest version, published last week, showed that Microsoft's founder, Bill Gates, continues to be the world's richest person, worth $51bn, while Google's founders jumped from 43rd to 16th position.

It is not clear what the two 32-year-olds have spent their money on. After the flotation, Mr Brin told the television programme 60 Minutes that he bought a T-shirt and still drives small Japanese cars. The two have made more money from selling shares this year than anyone other than Mr Gates, who has sold $1.58bn in Microsoft stock.

Google stresses the share sales are part of a plan agreed by senior executives at the time of the flotation. "Each of the executives retains a large proportion of their initial holdings in Google stock," a company spokesman told Bloomberg news.

Since the initial offering, Mr Page has sold $978.4m of stock and Mr Brin has sold $996.5m. They typically sell 400,000 shares a month, according to Washington Service, a research firm.

Google, which is based in Mountain View, California, raised $1.67bn in its initial public offering. This month it sold $4.18bn of stock, prompting speculation that it planned to go on an acquisition spree at a time that several deals were being done in the internet sector.